Combiner Wars is showing some impressive changes between uses of a mold. From Optimus Prime to Motormaster, it's now clearly obvious at least half of that toy's parts have been changed between characters. That change focuses entirely in the upper body, leaving the legs completely identical between figures. Knowing now that Cyclonus will be the mold reuse of Silverbolt, could a similar degree of parts replacement get us from one character to the other?
As this is based on simplified game art with a deformed style we can't rely on everything to be 100% accurately representative. But there is enough that can be pointed to as being consistent toy detail to establish its use as a guideline. The legs look substantially the same as Silverbolt. The biggest departure is tweaking the proportions which downplays the presence of the combiner socket below the knee, but the correct shapes are still visibly present, including the jet engines on the insides of the lower legs. The arms are very generic, which fits the general look of Silverbolt's boxy arms. The one change we know to expect are wings on the forearms.
The torso mode silhouette used on the Fan Built Combiner promo image that originally lent weight to the rumor of Cyclonus as the retool had visible winglets pointing out from the thighs. This indicates some structural change to the arms, though whether it's just adding extra wing parts to existing connection points on the arms (Silverbolt has 5mm peg holes on the forearms which are only specifically for use with the shield section of the giant rifle) is unknown. But the outcome I see is minimal changes being needed to any of the limbs to get Cyclonus from the toy.
That's good, because the entire core of the figure has to go. Apart from two new heads - the Cyclonus robot head obviously, and the combiner head that the silhouette makes to be Galvatron - the game art shows that the torso shapes and details are different. The clearest example is Silverbolt's middle chest being recessed while it's level with or slightly raised compared to the pectoral vents. Those vents themselves are inverted compared to the ones on Silverbolt. The shapes on the abdomen panel to which the combiner head is attached are also distinct in a way that can't be accounted for by the art style. The real clincher for the torso replacement comes with the vehicle parts. The "spine" of the jet mode is integral to the torso chunks, and while you could
potentially pass off Cyclonus as a huge passenger aircraft, that's not what the art suggests. For one, Silverbolt's large, angled stabilizers are also integrated and Cyclonus doesn't have those in the art. And while the stylizing may be misleading, it seems like the core of the fuselage on Cyclonus is wider than Silverbolt, taking perhaps as much as the full width of the torso block without obstructing the wing hinges and connection points. These are the strongest indicators for the level of new parts I'm predicting, as nothing short of a full swap out of the torso pieces can account for the changes both needed and represented by the only visual source we have as of this writing.
The remainder is pretty simple. The cockpit section and nose are effectively superfluous and easily changed without calling for major redesigns - they only need to match to the width and shape of the fuselage they back up to. The main wings are much the same situation, which is amusing since they may be the most important element to get right to achieve the correct outline for Cyclonus in both modes. And even though it seems like a strange choice at first glance, the more you apply a bit of reason the more Cyclonus seems to emerge from the underlying design. It'll never be a case of Optimus and Motormaster with an endless debate over which was conceived first, but this is much less off the wall than it felt when the idea was first suggested.
Thanks to Optimus and Motormaster we have a sense of what is possible right now in alternate parts between figures. And with the Battle Tactics art as our guide we have an idea of what's required to make this work. At the end of the process, I don't think the latter exceeds the former. If anything I feel like the conversion process from Silverbolt to Cyclonus may even be more conservative than the trucks, while yielding a greater visual change overall. Where once I was rather uninterested by the prospect of receiving a new Cyclonus made from this mold, the process of figuring out how it will get there has started to sell me on it. I now hope actively that this is present at Toy Fair on the 14th of February, both because I want to see how much I got right, and because I think this could turn out very well and I'm eager to see if that's the case.